Desert Rain / #3

I wasn’t going to post any more of Desert Rain, but there’s some interesting discussion happening, so will continue for a bit. How very Dickens of me! This follows straight on from the last post.

Carol

The tears that sting my eyes feel cool against the water as I slide under it, trying to soften the edges of what just transpired. Again. Sometimes I turn away, unaffected by Peter’s hurt. Sometimes my heart percolates up into my throat and the aroma of my guilt suffocates me. Why does he tell me I’m beautiful when we both know I’m not? How can he look at my nakedness like he did thirty years ago and see any resemblance at all to the supple girl I used to be? Why does he bother? It hurts more when he lies.

I run a hand down the rocky slope of my thigh. The other is splayed on a breast that slunk a few inches down my chest when I wasn’t looking, and the tears re-surge in my throat. He looks at me sometimes with such longing. I wonder if it’s longing for me particularly or just for sex itself. How long has it been? I can’t even remember. And then the tears flood my face and threaten to overflow the bath. A torrent of guilt swells around me, floods my skin until I bloat like a carcass after the rains; wasted, useless, redundant.

My lifeblood, my pulse, my rains, the sun, my Peter. I can sense him before he’s even in the room. The quiver from the heat of the water quickens as I feel him beside the bath. I relish in my nakedness with him so close. I will Carol’s thighs apart as she draws them together. He stands tall, my Peter. Tall, broad, beautiful; ageing like fine wine. The sweep of his cheekbones and the grey against his temples gets all women, young ones too. She hates this. Her jealousy is like a monolith between them and my voice is so tiny against its vastness that I am forever in its shadow.

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14 Comments

Filed under Fiction, Love, My Book, Sex, Women/Feminist, Writing

14 responses to “Desert Rain / #3

  1. You have such a wonderful way with words. I see a powerful message emerging. The difficulty of accepting ourselves both physically and emotionally as we inevitably age.
    Looking forward to more.
    Bill

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  2. Thank you Bill, very much. You hit the nail on the head with that observation.

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  3. poseidonsmuse

    This piece is so powerfully charged. I particularly like the juxtaposition between Carol’s two “selves.” (her lusty bits and her cerebral and emotional bits). Women are complicated creatures, aren’t they? So are men. And Peter sounds divine by the way (I wonder what his story is….?).

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  4. Yes, we are, we truly are!
    I wonder what his story is too! Hopefully he’ll tell me soon!

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  5. spiritwoman

    Hi, really enjoyed your writing about Peter and Carol. I marvel at how you are able to get inside their psyches and grasp their innermost truths. Keep writing!

    Btw, thanks for your visits to my blog 🙂

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  6. D. Peace

    Another great section. It’s up to you entirely, but I don’t mind one bit if you keep posting DESERT RAIN pieces. I’m getting more interested in the characters by now.

    Carol’s frustration with Peter, as evinced in the second section, stems from her thinking he’s lying. Which stems from her own negative self-image and latent jealousy that he’s still attractive to younger women.

    Women, especially middle-aged women, frequently find it hard to believe that men genuinely consider them beautiful. I have no idea why this is. In the case of Peter, I think his affection is sincere (right?).

    In some cases, I think men think more highly of women than women think of themselves, in terms of physical beauty. Again, this confuses me. Women are able to retain good looks longer than they think they can, and, honestly, physical attraction has to do with more than good looks anyway. There are some middle-aged women who are just undeniably alluring, but they seem encumbered by their own self-loathing. The character Carol, for example, sounds stunning. Yet, at the same time, she (at least in part) isn’t satisfied with herself. I feel bad for her.

    I’m interested in finding out what part the bath plays symbolically. It seems to be hinting at metaphor.

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  7. Spiritwoman – Thanks for the encouragement – lovely to have you here.

    DP – I love your insights, partly because you are only one of two or three males who comment on my site (Michael, you said you’re reading, where are you?!), and because your insights are so, well, insightful!
    You’re exactly right about Carol and where her frustrations/anger/pain stem from. I really want to explore how bad this can get for some women as they age and how it effects both parties in the relationship. I’m sure you do have an idea of why women think that men don’t find them attractive as they get older – women are bombarded with images of perfectly air-brushed younger and younger women absolutely everywhere. Even very young women carry this self-doubt with them.
    The bath is certainly part of the metaphor centered around menopause.

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  8. poseidonsmuse

    DP – I agree with Simonne entirely (this post is certainly opening up some dialogue channels, isn’t it?). It is wonderful to have your open-minded comments on these topics. Your social insight is rather compelling to say the least (and more women need to sit down with you over a steaming latte and explore this insight – the women in your life are rather lucky, if you don’t mind me saying so).

    [All hell is breaking loose in my house this morning – the turtle is freaking out and the security alarm is having a hissy fit – phew! Now I’m back – crisis averted]

    Anyways, where was I (oh yeah, this Energizer Bunny is “off the ‘feine wagon this morning too by the way!!! Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee….). Ok. So my observations are telling me that much of this gender and age confusion has much to do with empowerment. We need to start empowering both women and men (ie. girls and boys) in our society. This is not done (ahem…”commercial” makers) by telling graceful, elegant, middle aged ladies to take care of their skin with commercials where teenaged girls are prancing around in their underwear in front of a sink – worrying about their “wrinkles”). Please – crow’s feet and grey hair can be so sexy anyways….

    In addition, Andro-pause is now becoming more of a concern in men. Plumetting levels of testosterone are being recorded in gents and this most certainly will have an affect on their social, mental and physical well-being as well. Should we care about this as women? Darned right we should. Just as men should be concerned about the well-being of women at this tender stage of life.

    My opinion – turn that damned television off, chuck the stupid fashion mags into the garbage and sit on a patio with some of your best friends. Nurture each other. Empower one another. It all starts here.

    [sorry for the rant – I got fired up….]

    You are doing a good thing here Simonne!

    Keep up the good work! [hugs]

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  9. D. Peace

    I’m well aware that western culture insists that only the very young can be considered attractive, especially in advertising.

    What I don’t understand is why the prerogative to control a woman’s self-esteem in the hands of advertsing executives. I’ve seen cases where men would just trip over each other to get to a woman and she would STILL have pangs of self-doubt…. why? Is COSMO that powerful?

    I guess it could be argued that pop culture is so overwhelming and so ominpresent in society that it’s possible that it could wear down on the psyche of any woman, but, if you’ve got a man in your life who’s telling you that you’re beautiful, and he genuinely means it, what’s to doubt?

    Using your story as an example again, Carol’s self-esteem issues should be lessened by the fact that Peter evidently, and as far as I can tell, loves her, admires her beauty, and wants to be with her. Corporate entities who scatter-bomb her psyche with images that equate beauty only to youth shouldn’t matter.

    Actually, as I think about this, I’m answering my own question in my head. Peter needs to communicate his passion for Carol more fully and adequately. I think a big reason that women’s self-image is based on mass media is the fact that the men in their lives don’t communicate our true priorities… we (meaning guys) let glamor magazines tell women what they should look like, when we should be opening the dialogue ourselves.

    Well, for what it’s worth, if I were in Peter’s case, I’d be more open. It’s a shame Carol’s self-esteem dropped to such a point that she doesn’t like her husband looking at her in the tub, especially since he’s dying to reach out to her.

    poseidonmuse – Uh… sure. I’m just a regular Greg Behrendt.

    Thanks for responding. I enjoyed reading your comment. I hope you got your turtle under control, as they can be dangerous when perturbed.

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  10. I guess, as one half of a middle-aged couple (50 & 57), I have a little insight into Carol and Peter’s feelings. What I personally feel about my own body somewhat mirrors Carol’s feelings, although not to the degree of self-loathing she displays. My own partner, Ken (like Peter), sees me as much more beautiful than I see myself. Do I think I’m undesireable? Not at all (although the other night when Ken was using his back massager on my thighs I warned him if he continued much longer, he was liable to cause a fat tsunami down there), but it helps that my guy makes it a point to tell me how beautiful I am every day. But that door swings both ways and I make sure to give him the positive strokes back. Maybe this is how we get through the loss of our youth, by just being each other’s private cheering section. I don’t know. I wish I looked like my old, unlined, not-gray, not lumpy self I once was. Not gonna happen. Carol, this is supposed to be the best time of your life. Did Peter cheat on you?

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  11. PM, you are totally adorable! (Particularly when you’re back on the coffee!) You have a turtle? Really? And I agree re Mr Peace, he’s a bit of a find! Much more sitting on the porch in deep conversation is required, I agree! And yes, it’s sad that men are now suffering a similar fate. (Although I do think that this phenomenon will help move this obsession on quicker than if they weren’t messed up in it too.)

    Peace, Yes, yes, yes it is so omnipresent and overwhelming that it directs your internal self, despite a loving man who adores your spirit and hence all of you. It’s so omnipresent in fact, that it pervades most forms of communication, especially in popular culture. I want to write a film that totally subverts this and I’m stumped even on where to start! A feminist writer (Tara Brabazon) wrote that “feminism needs a popular cultural equivalent of ‘Fight Club’ … Women need a (metaphoric) fight club, a place where we can slog out our discord at a devious world.” But where to start?!
    Anyway! Peace, I adore what you’ve written about Peter needing to articulate how he sees Carol more/better to her. This is where they will end up in the book. But it is something that I think men struggle with because they are up against the self-esteem issues of women, and that is vast. Women don’t believe them and so they’re stuck. Then both are stuck in this awful place that’s so incongruous with the rest of their trusting relationship.

    OB, what you have with Ken is wonderful, wonderful. No, Peter didn’t cheat, but sometimes Carol wishes he would so she can justify her feelings that she knows are bigger and more destructive than either of them can admit.

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  12. chughes

    Beautiful, imagery; a sadly moving place to be for Carol. Why can’t we just love ourselves?

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  13. Oh, I feel for her terribly. Poor Carol. I want to sit down and have a conversation with her!!! 🙂

    You’ve done a great job with the hook because here’s what I want to know:
    What happened to her to make her feel so undesirable?
    Has Peter ever been unfaithful? Or has she ever believed him to be unfaithful even though he hasn’t?
    Did they lose a child? What does her sadness stem from? What/where did she lose her youthfulness?
    What is to come of her vagina?
    And as you know, it’s the questions that keeps the reader engaged. This is a very engaging read for me.
    Great stuff. kim

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  14. Kim – such great and encouraging feedback – thank you. So glad you got engaged with what’s here. I guess I better write this one then so you (and me!) can’t find out the answers to your questions!

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